1st Chelsea (+2):
The Special One is back and will literally inspire Chelsea back to the top. Well, it's not that simple. This will be the most open title race in Premier League history which means that experience matters greatly. Mourinho has a knack of winning top-flight titles, including the Premier League more than once. A Rooneyesque striker in their ranks would seal the title for them; but so would a matured Lukaku leading the attack and filling the Drogba role. I don't underestimate Mourinho and his collection of top-flight titles, which is why I think he will do it again in 2014.
2nd Man City (+0):
New manager and an abundance of new players. Sometimes this is a cocktail for gradual transition or dramatic setbacks. I don't believe either is the case for Pellegrini and his men. He inherited a team that won the PL the year before and has simply supplemented it with classy signings such as Navas and Negredo. I think City will push Chelsea hard for the title, but perhaps they need time to gel as a prerequisite to reviving their fortunes.
3rd Tottenham (+2):
Bale saga and instability you say? Far from it. Spurs have been wheeling and dealing tactically over the summer. Purchasing Paulinho, Chadli and Soldado is indicative of their intent. I personally think Bale will stay on for one more season. Even if he goes, Spurs are now a decent offensive unit who should be able to challenge for a Champions League spot once again. Not only that, I think they may even by capable of truly overshadowing their North London neighbours Arsenal for the first time in a very long time.
4th Manchester United (-3):
Hold on, didn't they win the Premier League in May? Yes they did. But that was with Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm and his trophy-laden CV. Moyes has only won one trophy in his career and that was this season's Community Shield! You can't expect him to defend United's title with that sort of experience. He needs time to adapt and learn the ropes of such a massive club. RVP will help him out no doubt. As will the up-and-coming United youngsters, who could make a name for themselves. A good cup run is likely, but don't expect the league title back in their hands.
5th Arsenal (-1):
I am a fan of the "Wenger school of thought", i.e. financial stability, cultured atmosphere, patience and investing/using youth academy players. But for some time now, that hasn't worked for Arsenal. I believe even Wenger realises that (the Arshavin signing a few years back was a watershed moment). Thus the pursuit of Suarez showed his desire of signing a proven goal poacher who would naturally fit into Arsenal's style of play. Alas, they didn't sign him or anyone of his quality. Yes, the midfield is fantastic, but Giroud is no RVP. If only they bought Villa or Soldado...
6th Liverpool (+1):
The Barca Lite experiment continues under Brendan Rodgers. Coutinho and Sturridge were decent purchases last season and Aspas during this off-season may do well from August onwards. But will an unsettled Suarez lead the line in the same way as he did last season? I doubt it. Liverpool have enough quality to score goals without Suarez, but that quality is still short of Champions League standard in my opinion. Expect the same Liverpool as last season albeit with a bit more bite.
7th Swansea (+2):
Laudrup's League Cup champions defied many last season. Not bad for a team of average defenders and strikers. But Swansea's midfield (including Michu) is formidable; one of the best in the league. It has now been supplemented by a a decent player to lead the attack in Bony who is capable of scoring 20+ Premier League goals. Swansea could be distracted with their foray in Europe, but I think they will focus on the League and do better than last season.
8th Southampton (+6):
Some may think it a shock that I would place them so highly. After all, I slated them for relegation last season. but I see them in a similar vein to Swansea. I think a matured Clyne and Shaw will bolster their defence, as will the shrewd defensive midfield addition of Wanayama. Pochettino is no novice. He has now settled into PL life and his team should do better than last year, even if their main striker (Lambert) is aged over 30.
9th West Ham (+1):
They had a decent start last season, before getting a bit lost in the middle and semi-recovering in the end. West Ham have made some new signings over the summer, including the purchase of last season's loan signing Carroll. Sure Allardyce's style of football may not be pretty, but they will get the job done with some clean sheets to boot. They will build on last season, but don't expect a Europa League spot in their grasp.
10th Fulham (+2):
Jol's squad on paper will hardly warrant universal mentions of a team that could easily finish in the Top 10 (their away form last season was abhorrent!). The new owner's arrival may also add a level of uncertainty to the direction of the club in the upcoming season. But they have Berbatov! A proven PL goalscorer - who arguably has one more 15+ PL goals season left in him. Moreover, they have also acquired Stekelenburg (the Dutch goalie at the 2010 World Cup final) and the mercurial Taarabt on loan. I think they will improve their away form and maintain their home form level to slip into the PL's Top 10.
Stay tuned for Chief's Projected 13/14 Premier League Table (11th-20th)...